TALES OF THE MOGGY HORDE

Thu, 04 Jan 2001 18:55:03
The Horde is doing well.

Nefreet remains the bitch-queen of all time. Yesterday, she jumped on Sassy's butt and chased her up the hill and under the car.

We had to remove a tick from Unicom's chest this morning. Hate those things.

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Sun, 07 Jan 2001 19:22:13
Nefreet pissed on the kitchen counter again. I cannot fathom what drives her to do this. I keep her box clean. It's not like there's any good excuse for it. She had her nose rubbed in the puddle and got a good yelling at.

That was yesterday. Today, she and Unicom got their weekly rubdown with the Sock of Doom. I've had to be an evil Catmother for two days in a row. Fortunately, they are quick to forgive.

Achilles main interest in life these days is food. Canned food, I mean, the only thing he'll eat these days. As soon as I come down in the morning, Achilles begins talking about his food. "Where's my food? C'mon the bowl is empty. Open the can! Open the can already! I need food!"

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Tue, 09 Jan 2001 06:01:53
The cats were not at all pleased with the rain. I let them come and go for a while, but they would go outside just long enough to get wet, then race inside and leave wet, muddy prints all over my desktop.

So I locked them in and had to suffer the consequences of 13 cats going stir-crazy around me.

Achilles is sitting right next to the keyboard, looking me in the face, making pathetic noises about wanting more food, even though he's had the daily allotment of canned food. I can only afford so many cans of that stuff a day.

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Mon, 15 Jan 2001 04:50:56
Poor old Achilles took a nasty fall from the top of some high shelves. I must think he can make jumps that don't come as easily as they used to, or simply misjudged, and plunged into a pile of semi-soft plastic stuff that must have helped break the fall. He walked out of it looking perfectly fine, but it scared the hell out of me. I checked him over, couldn't find a thing wrong. I've been keeping an eye on him all day, just in case, but is seems he escaped unhurt. He's resilient, I'll give him that.

Diva has started making very funny sounds in her sleep. Little sucking-smacky sounds. I wonder what she's dreaming about?

During the cold weather, the cats lie in heaps around my oil-filled radiant heater, the only heat in the office. They look like worshippers at a strange altar. I notice Achilles and Theseus frequently cuddle up together. Theseus makes such big fluffy pillow

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Sat, 20 Jan 2001 22:23:11
I call this...

THE HIGH PRICE OF CAT FOOD

As I've mentioned before, the neighbor down the hill has a young orange tomcat that keeps wandering up here. We catch glimpses of him day or night and hear him yowling. He and Unicom had a nasty fight that left Uni covered with abscesses and cost me a $60.00 vet bill.

So we've been trying to catch this troublemaker and make the neighbor get him fixed. I borrowed a trap from my petsitter, one of the wire mesh cages with the pressure plate that triggers the door to shut.

I tried leaving it out in various places where I thought the tomcat would find it, using a small plastic cup of cat food as the bait. I left it at the end of the driveway, under the back deck, and on the front porch.

My catch so far has consisted of Achilles, Nefreet and Tribble. Achilles and Nefreet took it quietly, but Tribble was a seriously perturbed moggy by the time he was let out.

On the nights when we've set the trap, we've tried to keep Uni contained in the back hallway rather than have him get caught and spend the night cold and miserable.

One such morning, when I checked the trap under the back deck, I found it upside down and the food gone. Odd, I thought.

Then we started leaving it on the front porch. I put a red towel over it, both for disguise and to keep the cat warmer if it got caught at night. I found the trap one morning turned upside down again, and another morning it was tipped over on its side. Not a scrap of food was ever left.

It wasn't very hard to figure out the m.o. or identity of the probable culprit. Last night, I wedged the trap between two large, heavy gas cans so it couldn't be tipped over.

Sure enough, around 3:30 am we heard much thumping and bumping from the front porch where we had trapped a large and *very* pissed off raccoon. Knowing from past experience what he would do to the towel, I removed it and got a deep growl from him in the process. I draped the towel over the gas cans, hoping it would provide some protection while being out of reach.

We tried to sleep. The thumping continued. Randy finally gave up, got out of bed, dressed and transferred the raccoon into the back of the old Subaru. Randy was rewarded with growls and a bark and attempts to bite him through the wire mesh. He said the raccoon had completely shredded the plastic cup and had started in on the towel which he had somehow reached.

The raccoon went into the car with a sacrificial blanket underneath the cage. It was actually an old blue blanket-pad for moving furniture. Tough as it was, I warned Randy it wouldn't survive, but we figured it was better than having raccoon urine in the back of the car.

As soon as we woke up, I threw on some clothes and hurried out to check on our prisoner. The back of the car is a hatchback which can heat up quickly in the Sun, so I wanted to make sure he didn't overheat. I raised the hatch to give him some air and have a good look at him. He huffed and growled, stared at me with his little black eyes, his nose worked back and forth taking in my scent, and blue threads of shredded blanket hung from his teeth. He didn't take kindly to my soothing tone or reassurances.

He had both shredded and pulled the blanket so thoroughly through the wire mesh, it took all of Randy's strength to pull it free afterwards. Later, I left the blanket outside my office and the Moggy Horde had a smellathon over it.

After breakfast, we drove deep into the canyon behind my property, donned heavy gloves, faced him toward the hills and the stream, and opened the gate. He had turned himself around so that he had to back out of the cage. This may account for why he didn't shoot out of it at warp 9 like the other raccoons I've released. But he moved fast enough once he got out of there. Straight across the stream and up the hill in exactly the opposite direction I was hoping he'd go in, mainly more in the direction of my house than away from it.

We can but hope he won't find his way back to my place, or if he does, he will remember the high price of cat food.

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Sun, 21 Jan 2001 19:32:36
We had an usual wildlife spotting on the way home last night. A large possum was sitting in the middle of the road (a bad place to be, explaining why possums get hit a lot). He was ripping into some small creature he'd caught. We sat and watched him by the headlights for several minutes until he'd decided that was quite enough of that, thank you. He picked up the rest of his dinner and waddled huffily into the tangled foliage on the banks of the pond.

Further up the road, a huge owl took wing in front of us. Its wings were nearly as wide as our car.

As we approached home, I was idly wondering what the possum had caught, which reminded me that it had been a really long time since Unicom had caught a gopher.

Obvious punchline, eh?

My bedtime fun was cleaning up the scattered bits of guts and a long line of bloody pawprints down the hallway lino.

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Tue, 23 Jan 2001 02:28:32
THE HIGH PRICE OF CAT FOOD - PART 2

We got him!!! Hahahaha! Now that the raccoon is out of the way, I guess Mr. Orange Tomcat was finally able to discover the trap. About 8:30 am, I heard yowling and thumping from the front porch.

His big unhappy eyes stared at me. Then he curled into a ball at the far end of the cage and tried to pretend This Isn't Happening To Me.

I called my neighbor. He was willing to pay to have the cat fixed, albeit it very reluctantly. Now they're a retired couple, so I can understand they're probably on a fixed income. But I still have a gripe.

He asked how much it was going to cost. I said, I don't know, I haven't done it for a while. Haven't you had some of your other cats fixed? Well, no, it turns out the lady at the ranch below has always done it for him. This guy has never taken any real responsibility for all the cats he keeps bringing up to his place and it irritates me deeply. Every spring he brings another batch of kittens to his place. They aren't pets. He keeps them outside to catch mice and gives them a bit of additional food. Fine. But he also doesn't take care of getting them fixed, and if one is injured, he does nothing about it. I can't stand that cavalier attitude toward an animal.

Anyway, it turns out there's a program in place to provide free spaying of feral cats. They require he a) not be a cat you can catch or hold (which he sure isn't) and b) is brought in in a cage. No problem.

He hissed and fought the cage vociferously when I put him in the car, so I don't think I'll have any trouble passing him off as wild. One very unhappy moggy, let me tell you. He was even turning in circles inside this cage, something only a creature with the rubber bones of a cat could do.

Right now, he's spending the night at the vets, having lost his balls and the tip of his right ear. They remove the tip of the right ear so that you can easily spot from a distance whether or not a wild cat has already been spayed. Considering the chunk he took out of Unicom's ear, that seems right to me. An ear for an ear.

I have to pick him up tomorrow. I'm willing to bet he'll think twice before coming around to my place again.

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Wed, 24 Jan 2001 20:14:37
I was required to pick up the tomcat (now a tim) as early as I could this morning. For feral cats, they trank them while in the cage, do the surgery, then put them back into the cage. And they don't like having to leave them caged like that any longer than necessary.

So I went in first thing in the morning. When I picked him up, the assistant threw a towel over the cage. "He's very angry," she warned me.

I drove him back to the neighbor's house from whence he had come. He glared up at me most resentfully as I gave him a little lecture about staying where he lives and to not come back up to MY place.

He shot out of the cage with such force, that if I hadn't been holding onto the mesh it would have shot halfway down the driveway. Mr. Tim hotfooted it away from me and around the back of the house and didn't look back.

Now it's snowing, so the Horde is inside and not entirely happy about it. Sassy went out, being just too energetic to be contained for long, then came in and licked herself dry. A contradiction in terms, if I ever heard one

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Fri, 26 Jan 2001 20:19:32
The cats are going, "Snow? Foo!" The few that venture out tiptoe around in it, shaking their hind feet with each step and looking generally put out.

Unicom has simply settled in for a long-term nap.

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Thu, 01 Feb 2001 02:26:37
We tried an experiment that hasn't work out very well. It began when we were feeling sorry for Unicom not being able to come inside the house (except for the back hall) and spend more time with us. That's because of Nefreet the Psycho-Kitty and because we'd have to worry about Uni spraying.

But we decided to let him in for a couple of hours at night when we're in the living room watching TV. Uni loved this. He was one happy moggy, especially curled up on the sofa between Randy and me. We were happy humans, because he's such a loveable cat to have around.

Nefreet was *pissed*. They hate each other, they fight, there is no chance of truce. So she hisses, growls, sulks, bites us if we pet her and expresses her full psycho outrage.

Then it would be bedtime and we've have to haul Uni off the couch and put him back in the hallway again, since we couldn't possibly leave he and Nefreet alone together for the night. Uni is very unhappy about that. He came around to the glass doors at our bedroom where he wailed and scratched at the doors until 3 am.

And now he's constantly trying to dash past us and get into the house. I think we've made things worse instead of better, so for now we have gone back to keeping him out of the house.

He brought us a gopher last night. We think he's trying to bribe his way in again.

Late this afternoon, I noticed that Tribble hadn't come inside yet. I had the rest of the Horde ensconced in the office as usual. So I started calling Tribble. I went to the door and called for him three times, waited a while, then went to the door to try one more time.

There he stood, with a mouthful of squirming gopher. He dashed past me and ran off to find a quiet corner to eat it. That was a few hours ago...which reminds me that I should make a search for the inevitable guts I will have to clean up.

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Sat, 03 Feb 2001 04:35:21
Talk about a strange sensation. Owl crawled into my lap where he proceeded to have an attack of hiccups. Every few seconds, 16 lbs. of Siamese would give a little jump.

I don't think I've ever notice a cat get hiccups before.

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Mon, 05 Feb 2001 02:01:07
Nefreet managed to nail me yesterday. She goes into complete crazed Psycho-cat mode and disembowels the stairs about once a day. During that time, you must be *very* careful about playing with her. I thought I was well out of range and was simply talking to her, but she suddenly lunged and got me a whack on the face.

A couple of clawpoints on the right cheek (minor blood) and a graze on the lip. Blasted hurt though!

We tried something with Unicom and Nefreet that worked out rather nicely today. They both had their baths in the morning, then escaped outside to get away from the Evil Cat Mother.

Uni likes to nap most of the afternoon, so we let him in where he had the great joy of sleeping on the sofa while Nefreet stayed outside. Then by late afternoon, he was ready to go out and romp while Nefreet was ready to come inside and settle down.

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Sun, 11 Feb 2001 02:24:37
We continue the experiment integrating Unicom into the house with Nefreet. Uni is one very happy moggy to be inside the house. He is, after all, nearly 11 and not a young cat anymore. The vet thinks he has a touch of arthritis. So we like letting him stay inside where he's warmer.

Nefreet resents the hell out of this, no surprise. One or the other of us has to run interference any time they're in the same space. We give Nefreet plenty of attention so she won't feel neglected. But there's no way we can leave Uni inside when we go to bed. We *know* there will be fights. He really hates it when we put him in the back hallway. We give him his treats, but all he wants to do is come back inside.

The other price he has to pay for this privilege is getting his anti-allergen rubdown twice a week, instead of once. Randy has found that he's more allergic to Uni. Maybe because Uni is a male, or just a bigger cat, or has more oil in his skin or whatever. I'm now giving him a thorough "bath" on Sun., then a less thorough secondary rubdown on Wed. He'll just have to live with it.

Poor old Achilles seems to be hungry all the time. He bugs me for food almost constantly. I should get him in for a check-up, I suppose, though he appears to be doing well otherwise.

I drove the cats nuts with Australian bird sounds. The ABC (Australian broadcasting) website has a bird identifier area in their "Science" section, with very nice photos, descriptive info and bird sounds. I was playing kookaburras and currawongs and wattlebirds and galahs and bell birds and magpies, etc. Tribble sat up like a meercat for half a minute. Tosca ran around the top of the desk looking for the strange birds. Sassy was very disturbed by it all, not sure what to make of it.

We get our entertainment where we can. {g}

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Sat, 17 Feb 2001 19:42:47
The heavy snow seems to have driven out the gophers. Tribble, Querida, Knobby and, of course, Unicom, have each nabbed a gopher this week.

I nearly stepped on one myself. I was crunching through the snow toward the dumpster when something scurried out from under my foot. It paced me over to the cement platform the dumpster sits on, then it stopped to sniff me out. I tried to catch it by the tail, thinking how funny it would be for me to bring a gopher to Unicom, but it darted underneath the dumpster and out of reach.

We were woken the other morning at 6 am by Unicom yowling and fighting with something outside our bedroom doors. It was too dark to see what he was fighting, whether it was the orange cat I had fixed or something else. I let Uni in through the bedroom and we locked him in the back hall for the remaining hours.

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Sun, 18 Feb 2001 19:37:21
I sing the praises of Unicom, Mighty Gopher Slayer! Swift of claw, sharp of fang. He is the Terror of Rodents, Orange Death in the Night.

Hungry was the mighty Gopher Slayer, for he has left two steaming piles of entrails upon the hallway floor and two Mystery Organs, but only one snout to lie grinning upon the linoleum.

Red-pawed, he leaves his trail of victory betwixt sacrificial guts and cat door, marking the passage of his deadly intent. Long may he reign as Gopher Slayer Supreme!

Though he is perhaps equaled by Lady Querida, Blue-Eyed Mistress of Death, who took only ten minutes outside at midday to ensnare her own gopher.

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Wed, 21 Feb 2001 19:50:40
I don't know what's gotten into Nefreet, but she's been on a serial rodent-killer spree. Yesterday, late afternoon, she brought in a gopher and ate it in the back hall. We sang her praises and told her what a most excellent girl she was. This is the first gopher I know of her killing, though she may have gotten others we never saw.

This morning, in a light rain, she killed two small rodents of some sort. She left only the usual pile of guts and Mystery Organs, so there was no way to be sure what they were exactly. The organs looked a little smaller than usual, so I'm guessing mice.

Here's a fun fact for you: did you know that a stretched entrail will *glue* itself to linoleum? Glehgh

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Sun, 25 Feb 2001 22:42:19
Oh, the excitement of living with cats.

I was sitting at my computer, minding my own business, when I became aware of some kind of subdued excitement going on around me. A cat was chasing something.

Then I heard the skitter of little paws on my plastic office floor mat as something small scurried around my feet seeking a hiding place. It was a very live gopher. Theseus or whichever moggy caught it obviously decided that bringing the gopher inside entirely unhurt and chasing it around was a good game.

I tried to grab it with a towel, but it squeezed between a couple of boxes. I got a broom and a wastebasket and chased it out, whereupon it played bumper cars with my feet while I tried to shoo it into the wastebasket.

Then it ducked behind more boxes and shelving where neither I nor the cats had any hope of getting to it.

Great, I figured, it'll die there and rot and stink. Wonderful.

I went back to my computer. About ten minutes later, WHOOMP! Achilles has nabbed the unfortunate gopher. Nor does Achilles play games with them. He's dead serious about gophers. I saw the creature squirming madly and as it began making pathetic noises, I stepped outside my office for a few minutes until the evil deed was done.

Afterwards, Achilles perched next to my keyboard and happily groomed himself. "Was that a good gopher?" I asked. He looked at me with his tongue sticking out about an inch, so I guess it was.

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Mon, 26 Feb 2001 19:41:01
We provided Nefreet with cat TV. During the snowy and windy days, I scattered bird seed on the back deck, some very close to the dining room glass doors.

Nefreet crouches there and chatters at the birds for hours. She goes crazy for those birds. Sometimes it seems that she would rather chatter at them through the glass than make futile attempts at catching them.

Randy and I have decided that we could make a fortune with a product we could really use ourselves -- cat collars with a built-in shock device when one collar gets within a few feet of the other.

We want a pair for Unicom and Nefreet right now.

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Thu, 01 Mar 2001 18:53:45
Nefreet is perilously close to losing any affection Randy had ever formed for her. She is angry and resentful over Unicom being allowed into the house. So she has been acting out that anger just like a child would.

Except, being a cat, she's doing it by peeing and spraying on the kitchen counter. Mind you, she would occasionally do this even before we started letting Uni inside, but it has become worse the past few weeks.

She peed all over an area of the counter where I had books and papers. The cover of one of my martial arts books will never be the same. The papers she got were mostly unimportant, but she narrowly missed getting a check and a contract.

So we started putting out pots and appliances and various objects to prevent her from jumping onto the counter. Every night we'd have to do that and then put everything away in the morning. A real pain. Last night we didn't bother.

We found this morning that she had sprayed Randy's coffeemaker and some other containers. He was completely grossed out. He rubbed her nose in the spray, then kicked her outside and hasn't let her in since. It's a nice day, so no problem.

She is such a nut case. If I could keep her down here in the office with the Coven of 13, I would, but she hates all of them and they hate her. It would create absolute bedlam. Well, more bedlam than I already have, which is quite enough, thank you.

Oh, she found a pile of gopher guts Uni left on the patio, and ate them. Disgusting.

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Sat, 03 Mar 2001 19:20:52
Happy Tribble gets to crunch, crunch, crunch on a gopher brunch. Unlike Mr. Gourmet (alias Unicom) he leaves nothing behind. No clean up. What a good cat.

Sassy is visiting my lap more frequently these days. I really like that she's more affectionate, except that she tends to stand on my right arm so she can bury her face in my right armpit. Makes it a challenge to get any typing done.

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Sun, 04 Mar 2001 19:43:33
The cats are very twitchy about the banshee wind howling around the office. The braver ones - Tribble, Theseus, Diva -- go outside for a few minutes, then abruptly leap through the cat door as though being chased, recover their wits for another round and try again.

Most of the cats have decided there are too many demons shrieking in the wind and are staying inside.

But darling Tribble, in spite of wind demons, has already dragged in and devoured a gopher this morning.

Unicom did his gopher-slaying during the night. A tiny splotch and a Mystery Organ left in the back hall, and a barely-nibbled gopher carcass out in the driveway.

Tribble also left the Mystery Organ behind this time. I'm becoming more convinced that it's the stomach. I leaned over to pet Tribble as he was eating and give him his praises, and I could smell undigested vegetal matter rising from the Mystery Organ.

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Fri, 09 Mar 2001 01:57:39
Today Knobby was the winner of the gopher sweepstakes. He crunched it up in the corner, then generously left the lower half of it for Querida.

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10 Mar 2001 18:55:34
A friend sayeth:
< Would "the debris of feline performance art" be an apt description for gopher guts?

Sun, 11 Mar 2001 22:04:32
Performance art? Nah. It's Feline Divining by the Reading of Gopher Entrails. A full stomach, plus a look at the future.

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Thu, 15 Mar 2001 04:59:29
Owl keeps wanting to spend time in my lap. I want to accommodate the poor boy, he's so neurotic. After all, it took me 2 years just to win his trust.

The problem is that he's too big. Trying to type or get any work done with him in my lap is a major stress and I end up with nasty backaches. I'm trying to give him reasonable lap time, before "escorting" him off to save my back.

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Fri, 16 Mar 2001 01:56:42
I've been so distracted with work, I entirely failed to note that March 11th was Achilles' birthday. My old boy turned 17, or 84 in human years.

He's not doing too badly for an 84-year-old. The signs of age are upon him. He's on the thin side and I have to give him canned food or he won't really eat. He's a little unsteady on his feet sometimes. I suspect his hearing isn't all that great, and he seems to get mentally confused now and then. He's irascible, taking whacks at the other cats when they annoy him, which is several times a day.

But he can still run and play and make elegant leaps of levitation. He is death to gophers and crunches them down with merciless enthusiasm. All in all, he's not doing too badly.

I don't know Querida's birthday, so I let her use 3/11, too, and this makes her 16 years old. She's as healthy as they come, full of vim, and I think going through a second kittenhood.

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Thu, 22 Mar 2001 22:32:21
The warm, delightful spring weather has resulted in more gopher massacres, which is hunky-dory with me. Unicom has been nabbing about one a night, though not every night. Tribble munched down one this morning, but he had to tithe 50% of it to Achilles.

Nefreet is in the doghouse, so to speak (can't exactly say the cathouse, eh?) Randy called to tell me that he caught Nefreet attacking Querida for no good reason. Nefreet leaped onto Querida's back and dug in with all four paws.

I found Querida and checked her out. She was badly stressed, shedding like crazy, and had a tiny spot of blood on one ear, but I couldn't find any real injuries. I just hope there aren't secret abscesses waiting to bloom.

Then Nefreet got underfoot while I was in the kitchen getting something out of the fridge. I stepped, she howled, and I instinctively yanked my leg up and cracked the shit out of my knee on the bottom of the fridge door.

She has truly not been endearing herself to us lately.

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Sat, 24 Mar 2001 19:48:20
Spring has sprung,
the grass is riz,
the yard is fill
with gopher gizz.

Unicom the Mighty Gopher Slayer nabbed 3 gophers last night. His favorite new place for depositing the remains is now the back deck, right outside the dining room doors. This is not doing good things for the back deck which is becoming covered with blood stains. Nor will it be good when the wasps begin to hatch and are attracted to such things.

But what can you do? You can tell a cat "bring the gophers into the back hallway" ten thousand times and you may as well be talking to air.

I quickly cleaned up the remains on the back deck, but didn't bother picking up the leftovers out in the driveway. Instead, I let out the Moggy Horde Cleaning Crew and they took care of it.

I think the glue industry is missing something here, though. Forget superglue. Nothing quite surpasses the sticking power of a dried-out gopher entrail. Lino, wood, whatever. It sticks.

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Wed, 28 Mar 2001 05:04:40
I spent an pleasant piece of the afternoon shooting photos of the moggies outside. I was on my way down to my office when I saw Owl sitting amongst some yellow wildflowers in a lovely pose. He kindly remained there for the whole time it took me to go back to the house, get my camera together, get my glasses and return.

Pretty much the entire Horde came out to hang around and romp in the very tall grass, so I just keep shooting until I ran out of film.

I had focused in on Theseus' face and he was looking very lovely, when the suddenly decided it was time to hork up a hairball. I declined to record that activity for posterity.

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Fri, 30 Mar 2001 05:32:29
Little Diva had herself a gopher. All she wanted to do was play with it (though it was already an ex-gopher). She tired of that and came inside to eat cat food. I let Theseus out and showed him the gopher. But Unicom was also moving in. One of them finally ate the thing.

Diva looked especially fetching this afternoon: a svelte black cat amidst deep green grass and glowing saffron wildflowers.

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Sun, 01 Apr 2001 00:03:02
Poor Sly! I opened the door and there he was with a freshly-caught gopher. He was just starting to munch on it. I was telling him what a good boy he was when Achilles dashed out the door and grabbed the gopher away. I picked Achilles up and try to get him to let go, but he would not give up the prize. He ran off and chowed it down in no time.

But Sly seems to have a natural supply of Prozac. He just shrugged and said, I'll go sit in the sun over here. Nothing much riles calm old Sly.

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Sun, 01 Apr 2001 00:46:45
I have just had an utterly horrifying realization that leaves me stunned and depressed. I was scanning the slides of the cats and thinking about the Horde in general, when it suddenly hit me like a thunderbolt that I haven't seen Katie-cat for days.

There was no sign of her this morning with the other cats, but I failed to notice. Then, as I began to think back over the past few days, I realized with a shock that I can't remember seeing her any time this week. She wasn't outside with all the other cats when I was taking photos a few days ago. In fact, the more I try to remember that last time I consciously saw her, the foggier my memory gets.

This is so appalling of me I can hardly stand it. With this many cats, it's easy to get negligent about keeping track, but even so, this makes me feel more terrible than I can say. She was such a quiet girl and kept out of the way, that it was easy to not notice her sometimes.

All I can guess is that she went out one day and didn't come back inside in the afternoon. Either something got her during the day, or she was accidentally locked out all night and the local wildlife got her. She was a homebody and didn't stray far, so I can't imagine her running off.

Damn! I am very upset about losing her and very upset with myself for such a gross lack of awareness.

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Sun, 01 Apr 2001 01:02:19
All is well! Kate must have heard me sitting here sniffling and being miserable, so she came over, stuck her nose in my face and said, "I'm here, mom." Bast only knows where she was hiding out or why she didn't answer all my frantic calling.

Which proves once again that I must can't really trust my lousy memory, since I must have seen at least once in the past few days.

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Sun, 01 Apr 2001 18:40:00
The Moggy Horde declares this a day when humans may foolishly believe that they, and not their superior feline masters, are actually in charge of things.

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Sun, 01 Apr 2001 18:43:51
The Moggies wish to announce that the previous was only a test message, not intended for public broadcast. Pay it no attention. You never saw it. Sleep...sleep...

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Sun, 01 Apr 2001 18:46:41
Owl wishes to announce there is a stunning new photo of him on his web page.

Artemis, Blue, Knobby, Querida, Sassy, Sly and Tribble also had a new photo added to their pages, but Owl's is truly gorgeous.

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Tue, 10 Apr 2001 04:21:49
I may have saved Unicom's life yesterday.

I came outside to head down to my office. Unicom had already caught a gopher which he'd chomped in half. I started over to tell him what a good boy he was, when I realized he was struggling with something in his mouth. He had a chunk of gopher that he could neither swallow nor get out of his throat, and he was in serious distress.

Naturally, he didn't want me to help him, but I managed to catch him, grabbed the piece of gopher and extracted it. He had about a foot-long stretch stuck down his throat. I'm not sure what he would have done if I hadn't been there. No wonder cats don't live long in the wild.

The Horde is lying around in happy piles close to my heater, tonight. Theseus is using Achilles for a pillow. Those two cuddle up in terminally cute positions together. Such lover-boys. Tribble is stretched out between my keyboard and monitor, threatening to shove the keyboard into my lap. I guess it's better than having him under the wheels of my chair.

===============================================================
Wed, 11 Apr 2001 04:43:35
After the utter disinterest of Nefreet and the bored disdain of Unicom, I rather gave up on the laser pointer as a cat toy. But I finally got around to bringing it to the office and gave it a try.

I had so fun, I cramped my hand up from holding down the button for the laser. Theseus chased that red dot everywhere! Then I got Sassy and Artemis to race from one end of the office to the other chasing it. Owl decided to Ponder it. He finally broke down and chased it one, but returned to Pondering it. Tribble batted at it a little, but decided in short order to ignore it. Querida decided she didn't know what it was and should therefore avoid it. Diva chased it around intermittently. Sly just went, "Duhhh...."

Aged Achilles didn't seem to notice it existed. He just wanted food and attention. Screw the red dot.

I just tried it out on Owl again. He remains in Pondering mode.

===============================================================
Thu, 12 Apr 2001 05:07:11
A cool wet day of steady, gentle rain. Nothing heavy, but enough to flush out the gophers into the waiting jaws of the moggies.

Tribble brought one into the office in the afternoon. It was making the most pitiful, heartrending cries. Hardened as I am, I was having trouble coping with it. I had to remind myself it was a miserable, plant-destroying little rodent. Thankfully, Tribble put it out of its misery very quickly.

Unicom went out tonight and snared himself one within minutes.

We've been letting Unicom sleep inside the past few nights, and so far we haven't had a single outbreak of violence between Nefreet and him. They still hate each other, but I think they know the inside of the house is Mandatory Neutral Zone or else.

===============================================================
Mon, 16 Apr 2001 18:36:44
I was sitting here answering email, typing away, when a small noise infiltrated my consciousness. It took a couple of minutes of pausing to listen, when I recognized it as the chattering of gopher teeth.

I gently removed Achilles from my lap and went to investigate. Sure enough, Artemis and Blue had a small gopher surrounded. It was ferociously trying to defend itself by clicking its teeth together.

Neither Artemis nor Blue showed any real interest in doing more than chasing the gopher around. With all the nooks and crannies in my office, this mean I could have had a gopher lodged behind a filing cabinet or Bast knows where at any moment.

I went back to my desk, picked up Achilles and plonked him down in front of the gopher. Artemis and Blue quickly vacated the area.

As I've said before, Achilles doesn't mess around. He had the gopher in his jaws and dispatched it in less than the 30 seconds.

Of course, I then had to endure the sound of the crunching as I went back to work. Now Achilles is next to me, happily giving himself an after-snacking-on-gopher bath.

===============================================================
Wed, 25 Apr 2001 18:35:19
Now that lovely warm nights are back, Unicom has shunned our company. He hasn't come inside at night for his treats and bellyrubs and we are bereft.

Instead, he went on a killing spree. The back deck looks like the aftermath of a battlefield, strewn with bloody, dismembered gopher corpses, entrails, bits of fur. I couldn't even tell the number of gophers from the disparate pieces.

O' Mighty Gopher-Slayer! Keep up the good work.

We've meanwhile been worrying about Nefreet, who's had a recurring problem with her throat for a couple of years. When it happens, she almost entirely loses her voice and continuously tries to swallow. Remembering Zorro's throat tumor made us paranoid, so I hauled her off to the vet yesterday.

Nefreet wasn't about to sweetly submit to having her throat scoped, so they had to knock her out, thereby doubling the cost of the bill. The end result was an $84.00 finding of absolutely nothing wrong with her throat. The vet's guess is that she might suffer from some gastric reflux and she sent Nefreet home with some Pepcin.

Given how high strung Nefreet is, and so generally pissed off with Life, the Universe and Everything, I can believe she might suffer from such a thing. First time I ever heard of it in a cat, though.

===============================================================
Sat, 28 Apr 2001 17:54:35
The Gopher Buffet has become a regular fast-food express around here. While I was gone for a night, Unicom continued his killing spree. We find at least two a night on the back deck. Then Nefreet goes out in the morning to gnaw on what's left. Anything she doesn't finish off, the rest of the Moggy Horde Cleaning Crew will take care of later. Disgusting, but handy for me.

And Knobby has just dragged one into the office where he is chowing it down with enthusiasm and vigor.

===============================================================
Wed, 02 May 2001 20:49:19
Nefreet has decorated my pillow. Evidently, she was lurking in places where she became heavily covered in spiderwebs and other detritus. Then I foolishly left the bedroom door open. She wasted no time rubbing herself clean all over my pillow. Bedroom door is now closed, cat ejected, pillowcase in washing machine.

Someone treated Achilles to a gopher for breakfast. Lucky old cat.

===============================================================
Thu, 03 May 2001 19:32:53
A gopher-for-breakfast seems to have become a regular thing for Achilles. Another case of one of the moggies bringing it in, letting it run around (I could hear the defensive teeth chattering again), and Achilles taking the initiative. Followed by the inevitable CRUNCH-CRUNCH-CRUNCH.

===============================================================
Thu, 10 May 2001 04:50:52
A tough Warrior gopher went down fighting this morning.

After countless days of hovering over gopher holes, Nefreet bagged a large beastie. It was about 1/6th her size, given that she's a small cat. She brought it onto the back deck and Randy called me in the office to brag on her. I walked up to find her lolling about next to the gopher who was very much alive, not much hurt, but was playing dead for all it was worth. Every once in a while she'd give it a lazy little bat and it would scoot a couple steps, but remain as motionless as possible.

Randy and I encouraged her to finish the job. Nefreet was utterly indolent. So Randy let Unicom out. Faced with the Mighty Gopher Slayer, the gopher went into full defense mode, clacking his teeth and ready to fight for it. Uni plopped down. He'd had a gopher last night and looked bored by another one.

That was it. Two indifferent cats to one big gopher. It was time to unleash the Ultimate Weapon. I hiked down to the office, carried Achilles up and set him down on the deck. Randy got to see a true no-nonsense killer moggy in action. We had to get Nefreet out of the way, as she was interfering with Achilles' concentration.

And the Warrior gopher gave Achilles a worthy battle. He clacked and clattered and grabbed at Achilles' legs (note to self: check Achilles for bites), but in short order Achilles nabbed him and raced down to the office to have his meal. Randy was suitably impressed.

As I walked back down the office, I found Diva dancing around something in the grass, a poor lizard that had already sacrificed part of its tail. I hauled Diva inside to give the lizard a chance to escape.

===============================================================
Tue, 17 Jul 2001 23:23:02
We've had some cat crises, and for a while it was a Moggy & Doggy Horde. Backing up to my last post of May 9th and scanning my Dayrunner...

May 18 -- I'm out of town and Tribble decides to vanish. Randy and my sitter both spent time looking for him. He finally reappeared, after causing me sufficient long distance distress.

May 19 - Here's what I wrote up at the time:

I was driving home from L.A. last Sat. up the long, boring empty stretch of 99, about 40 miles north of Bakersfield when I spotted something on the side of the road. I pulled over and went back to check. It was a little tiny dog utterly abandoned and lost in the middle of nowhere. What could I do?

She was so pathetically happy to see me. She must weigh no more than 7 lbs. at best. She's about the size of Nefreet (my smallest cat), minus the fur, and certainly doesn't outweigh her. All the cats are bigger than this dog. She obviously has Chihuahua in her, because of her size and because of her big brown eyes, but the rest of her looks like someone tried to squeeze a German Shepherd into the tiniest possible package. She's stouter that a Chihuahua, long body, long springy legs, curled tail, tan/buff fur with black markings, floppy ears. She's not a cringey, yipping little dog, either. She's highly energetic, but relatively calm for this kind of dog meaning she doesn't piss if you look at her wrong. Extremely well behaved, wildly affectionate, pretty damn smart, and thank goddess, very well housebroken.

No collar, no info. She's a grown female and we can tell by looking at her teats and genitals that she must have had a litter sometime fairly recently.

I spent about half an hour at the nearest town, or what passed for a town, Earlimart, trying to figure out where she might have come from or on the wild chance someone would know who she belonged to. That was a waste of time. Earlimart is a gas station and a couple of taco stands. I was able to get her some dog food and water. She was quite hungry, although she threw it up in the car later. Probably got car sick or too much excitement for her. She's in good shape, so I don't think she was on her own too terribly long, though she sure is a scavenger. She likes to eat the bits of gopher that Unicom (big orange tabby) leaves behind on the back deck.

Thus, I now have a little dog until I can find her a home. She can't stay here. As soon as he saw her, Unicom literally tried to kill her, and he outweighs her by a good ten pounds. I have to stand guard and protect her and/or make sure Unicom is inside whenever I need to take her out to relieve herself.

Then I tried bringing her down to my office so she could be around me during the day. And to my dismay and shock, Kate went after her in the most vicious manner I have ever seen. Kate of all cats! She's so damned timid the rest of the time. She chased that poor little dog around the office until I could rescue it. I was so pissed off with that cat! And it means I can't bring her down here.

So poor little dog has to be locked up in the back hallway all the time to protect her from ravening cats. It's pathetic. That's why I need to find her a home quickly.

I had planned to take her to the local SPCA. No good. It turns out the one I was thinking of is in Mariposa county and they won't take her because I live in Madera county. Madera has an SPCA organization, but no physical structure and no foster homes to spare. So I'm stuck. I'm put notices up at Von's and Raley's and the vet's and the local ISP's on-line ads. As soon as I get a photo of her, I'll add that to the notices.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

None of the cats ever did accept Gracie, and by that time, Gracie was terrified of any cat getting near her. I'd have to walk Gracie 3-4 times a day. Not that it was bad for me, but having a dog was just one complication too many with all the cats, especially a dog I kept having to protect from the cats.

She was a truly wonderful little dog, though. Unfortunately, I was wrong about thinking she had just had a litter. She was ABOUT TO HAVE a litter. Four weeks along, actually, just barely enough to have her spayed, which I did. She had shots, too. Lots of expense I really didn't need.

Gracie was tremendously smart, though I could done without her habit of finding every single dead animal part that any cat had ever left in the yard over the past several years. However, she clearly had some rat terrier in her, as she quickly found and killed a gopher all on her own. She was so proud of herself. But she didn't quite know what to do with it afterwards, so Achilles got to eat it.

May 21 - Tribble went to the vet to get a big abscess on his cheek treated. He came home with a tube and a Frankenstein face.

May 28 - This was the day Randy found a big Norway Rat ensconced in his Porsche near the gas tank in the front trunk. He left out a chunk of rodent bait which disappeared. This is a multi-feed anti-coagulant poison. They have to eat 3-4 doses of it, then they essentially bleed to death in about a week.

May 31 - I came down to my office in time to find Achilles finishing off the very last of a rat. I saw the big rat tail and a hind foot sticking out of his mouth. I raced over and tried to extract as much as I could, but he had polished off everything else.

Now combine the preceding info about the rat in the Porsche with the fact that in the 8 years the Horde has lived up here, they have NEVER ONCE caught one of these rats. The only conclusion I could reach is that this was the Porsche rat which had eaten enough poison to be dying and get itself caught.

I called the vet immediately, then tossed Achilles into a carrier and took him in. The vet had to give him something awful to make him throw up the entire rat. I heard about that from the vets and the techs for days...the amount of rat that came up. Even they were grossed out, I think.

The treatment is simple -- Vitamin K, which helps the blood coagulate until it flushes out of the system (in about 5 days). But the cure they used ended up being worse than the original problem. It damaged Achilles' throat so badly, he wouldn't eat or drink, and was severely ill. I got special milk formula and tried to get that into him with a food syringe. I tried mooshing food into formula. It was all a battle.

He would keep getting dehydrated, and being such an old cat, that was the worst danger. Plus, another typical thing in a cat this age, he has kidney problems. One kidney is very small (probably not working) while the other is enlarged trying to do the work of two kidneys.

It was very touch and go. Over the next three days, I kept having to rush Achilles back to the vet for fluids. Finally on the last visit, the tech managed to get a nice large amount of soft food into him. That seemed to turn the tide. He slowly began eating and drinking again, though he had trouble with his poor throat for another week.

He has bounced back remarkably. Now he's eating with extremely good appetite and doing great. He's a tough old cat.

However, I have noticed that since then, he hasn't shown any interest in stealing and eating the other cats' gophers. I think the experience put him off fresh rodent. Not that I can blame him.

June 11 - My agent told me about a woman in L.A. who specializes in finding homes for small dogs. I began talking to her about finding a home for Gracie.

Later that day, I noticed Nefreet had come inside and was behaving as though she was suffering terrible pain from her nether quarters. She was yowling with pain, something I've never heard her do. It was 6 pm and I barely managed to contact one vet who was willing to wait the 20 minutes it would take me to get there. I raced Nefreet into town. I had to wait up front while they took her in the back for an exam. A few minutes later, I heard Nefreet let out a shriek that shook the rafters. The vet came out to inform me that he'd extracted a foxtail (nasty, sharp, pointy seed) from her vagina. It had taken 3 of them: two techs to hold her down while he did the extraction.

My, she was an unhappy girl. I had to give her pills for a week, but by the next day she was back to normal.

June 13 - Gracie came with us on a trip to L.A. We met the dog rescue woman, who immediately fell in love with the little girl. I had become rather attached to Gracie by now, but I admit, it was a relief to turn her over to someone else.

June 14 - Heard from the dog rescue woman that she has already found Gracie a wonderful home. The people called me later and I had a good chat. I'm happy to say Gracie is in dog heaven. She's being loved, pampered and spoiled. Sleeping between them on the bed, etc. They said she's like a reincarnation of their last beloved little dog. All is well and I was back to dealing with only cat crises again.

June 29 - Sassy disappeared. I usually let the cats out some time between 9:30 and 11 am, let them run freely for a few hours, then start getting them back inside between 1 and 3 pm. Being out in the middle of the day, I worry less about something happening. And Sassy never went all that far from the office. She loved to hang out under her particular oak tree. Sometimes she'd go a bit further down the hill from the tree, though never too far.

But she never came back. We called and called for her. I searched and called for days. I'm heartbroken. She was such a sweet girl.

The Moggy Horde is down to 14 now.

July 8 - I had noticed that Artemis wasn't feeling well for a couple of days prior and had decided that if she didn't perk up by Monday, I'd take her to the vet. Sunday I came down to the office and found her tossing blood and pus around from a big old nasty abscess that had blown open on her neck, behind her left ear. She's so fat, I couldn't tell she had an abscess!

It was a disgusting mess. I spent quite a while cleaning that up. I always keep a supply of Amoxicillin on hand, so I started her on that. I've spent the past week giving her pills and cleaning the wound twice a day. It's finally healed up to where she doesn't look TOO hideous.

Other than that, it's been the usual nonsense. Blue and Owl have decided to have the occasional yowling-for-a-fight face-off. I've had to rescue Sly from Unicom a couple of times.

The usual fun and games. I'm hoping for a nice long spell of no excitement around here.
Christy
Servant of Bast

===============================================================
Wed, 18 Jul 2001 05:46:22
< Christy -- it may be ungodly expensive to deal with all the animal crises, but you are definitely earning karma points. Thanks for the report.

Is that like, y'know, Green Stamps? Do I get a prize?

And it better not be a t-shirt that reads, "I earned a zillion karma points and all I got was a horde of cats."

===============================================================
Thu, 26 Jul 2001 04:36:18
Nefreet had something trapped in the bushes in front of the house. I decided I'd better check it out since there is always a chance of it being a rattlesnake.

I looked under the branches of the rosemary bush she was haunting and saw what I thought was a large mouse. I chased it a bit with a stick trying to get it to come out where Nefreet could grab it. But I suddenly realized a couple of things. First, it had a very thick, rat-like tail. In fact, the more I looked at it, the more I thought it might be a very young rat. Secondly, it wasn't moving very well. Needless to say, "Poisoned!" was the next that leaped into my brain.

The rodent decided to duck under the front porch and escape, while I decided to take Nefreet inside just to play it safe.

We opened one of the rat bait traps, the one in the water filtration system shed, and checked inside it. Not only have the rats been happily chewing away on the bait, they also packed up nearly every inch of the box with nesting material. We're not sure if that's a good sign or a bad sign.

===============================================================
Tue, 31 Jul 2001 17:46:12
Achilles has managed to gross me out, not an easy thing to do these days.

I was wrong about losing his taste for gopher. I heard the telltale crunching sound and glanced over to see who was eating. When I saw it was Achilles, I decided to do a closer check, just to be safe.

It looked pretty much like a gopher, but then I realized it wasn't exactly a fresh gopher. Some cat much has dragged it in days ago and for some reason didn't eat it. It's been hidden in that obscure corner of the office until Achilles happened upon it.

Nor did he want to let go. I had to pry open his jaws to remove him from it. That's when I looked to one side of the gopher carcass and realized it had done what so many carcasses do -- spawned a huge pile of seething maggots.

I wiped them out with a thoroughly drenching spray of Lysol and vacuumed them up later, but my stomach did not enjoy the job.

===============================================================
Fri, 03 Aug 2001 21:11:01
Returning to a more approved diet, Achilles showed up with a large, fat, squirming gopher which he took to the Killing Spot and dispatched. Well and good. Then I heard Achilles complaining about something. The next thing I know, he's in my face, straddling my keyboard, gopher in maw.

"No," sayeth I, "You are NOT eating that on my desk." I picked him up, gopher and all, and deposited him on the floor. He got the hint. He ate most of it and Knobby got the rest.

A bit later, when I was up at the house for lunch, I opened the front door to let Nefreet out and discovered the remains of a small bird. I suspect it was gotten in the back of the house near the birdbath. I noticed a few little feathers when I was watering plants this morning. Nefreet is the likely culprit, since she likes to hang out by the birdbath, and has a definite taste for birds, plus she and Unicom are let outside much earlier than the other cats.

Randy was worrying that Nefreet might have the "lizard sickness", where cats become obsessed with eating only lizards and won't touch any other food. I don't think that's the case, but I did have to rescue a lizard from her yesterday. It was one of the most beautiful small lizards we have around here -- dark bodies with two yellow stripes and an iridescent blue tail. This poor fellow had already sacrificed his gorgeous tail to no use. Nefreet isn't fooled by that old ploy any longer. I carried her inside and Mr. Lizard Sans Tail made a frantic escape.

I have a large pot of catnip on the back deck that was having a hard time surviving cat predation, so I enclosed it in a shell of wire fencing. It's a wire mesh designed to keep deer out. It has a fairly large grid of squares along the bottom which become progressively smaller toward the top of the mesh. The size is fine for deer; not as useful against cats.

It's helped some, but the dedicated nipheads, like Unicom and Owl, quickly worked out their techniques for ignoring it. Owl often chooses a large square and sticks his whole head through it and chews on the leaves. Unicom likes to reach through with a paw, snag a branch and simply bring the catnip over to him to munch on.

This morning I looked out and there was Nefreet...sitting inside the wire like a caged creature. She barely fit, but looked perfectly at ease. When she decided to leave, she oozed her rubberoid body through one of the larger grid openings at the bottom.

===============================================================
Mon, 06 Aug 2001 22:01:23
None of the Horde were allowed to go outside today, and it was all because of one silly squirrel.

We let Unicom and Nefreet out as soon as we got up, per the usual routine. We had breakfast, then I went outside to water the big rockrose bushes and overflowing rosemary that grow along the perimeter of the back deck, along with some flowers and other plants I have in pots on the patio and deck. I also make sure to fill the birdbath. The birds appreciate it in this heat. The other night, we had about 8 bluebirds taking a communal bath.

As I finished up and headed toward the patio, I heard the strangest sound. It was coming from a low branch of the big, free-standing oak that shades the patio. It was a loud, almost "barking" sound and I quickly saw what it was -- a red tree squirrel.

We don't usually get the tree squirrels up here. There are ground squirrels to spare, thick as fleas. But this was a good-sized red squirrel, big ears, thick bushy tail. He was mightily pissed off and letting the world know about it.

For one thing, he had two cats waiting down below. For another thing, as is typical of California oaks on these hills, he had nowhere to go. Down below us, in the valley where it's flat, the trees tend to grow more closely together, especially around the small lake. That's where I usually see tree squirrels. Up on the hills, the oaks tend to be set apart from one another.

He could either stay in this tree indefinitely, or come to the ground where he had wide, deadly open spaces in all directions before he could get to another tree. So he wasn't a happy squirrel.

Randy and I talked to him for a while (and he talked back vociferously), then we brought Uni and Nefreet inside until the squirrel could figure out that the coast was clear and hightail it to more thickly wooded parts. That's why I also didn't let the rest of the Horde out. I doubt they'd go after a squirrel of this size (they never, ever show interest in or catch the ground squirrels), but I wanted to make it easy.

We saw him coming experimentally down the trunk around 12:30 and there's no sight or sound of him now, so I'm guessing he made his escape.

Diva showed her displeasure of being stuck inside by doing her imitation of a black, furry rocket along the tops of the bookshelves. Tribble and Theseus simply complained a lot.

Achilles is happily curled up inside an empty carton that once held reams of paper. It's a perfectly cat-sized box. Sly is napping in his favorite spot -- the top of my flat-top HP printer. Heavy plastic covers are a must around here.

===============================================================
Tue, 14 Aug 2001 21:23:27
My day didn't go as planned. Yesterday, I noticed Querida had a small amount of pus in the corner of her right eye, but I couldn't see any real problem. This morning it looked a little worse with maybe some blood mixed in.

So I dropped everything and took her to the vet. I couldn't get in to see my regular vet on such short notice, but another clinic managed to get me in. Her eye isn't injured, which was my main worry. She has some kind of infection, maybe due to allergies. No biggie.

The poor old girl was badly stressed. She complained loudly the whole way, then she had a panic attack and panted heavily through the entire visit, and ended up crapping in the carrier on the way home.

However, she's in extremely good condition for a 16-year-old Grand Dame. The vet said he hopes he's in that kind of shape at her age.

===============================================================
Wed, 15 Aug 2001 05:00:25
It looks like Nefreet is a serial bird killer. We found another small pathetic set of remains on the front porch, right on the welcome mat same as before.

It's partially our fault, as we have a birdbath sitting right next to the porch and front steps, a perfect place for her to practice her evil ways. Earlier this morning, we saw a woodpecker drinking from the birdbath while a large Towhee was drinking from the bowl of water we put on the porch for the cats. Now that's really asking for trouble.

We have a problem getting Nefreet to eat her cat food. We think she's decided on a diet of birds and lizards instead.

===============================================================
15 Aug 2001 21:31:00
From: Russell Laughlin
< We used to have a semi-feral cat that my parents named "Truman" even though she was female. My parents were running 0 for 6 on sexing and naming cats by that time, big cats were boys and little cats were girls, regardless of how the cat felt about it.

< Anywho, Truman's trick was to lay in the grass almost exactly at the halfway point between two elms that were about 30 feet apart in our yard. Bluejays kept nests in both trees, and would swoop and scold at Truman to drive her away. Truman would just lay there as the birds got braver and braver, even swooping low enough to snag a tuft of fur from the cat. After 3 to 10 really close passes, with no response from the cat... SNATCH!!! Truman had herself a bluejay lunch.

{g} I saw Zorro pull a trick like that once. He laid down with his back to a birdbath a few yards away and utterly ignored the bluejay that was hanging around.

When the bluejay got careless, Zorro went from indifferent reclining to full-on action so fast I couldn't even follow it! The jay just barely got away, probably because Zorro wasn't really trying all that hard.

Moggies are so cunning.

===============================================================
Wed, 22 Aug 2001 21:24:31
Querida had another one of her odd "panic attacks" yesterday. I never know what brings them on because I'm always inside at my computer and she's always outside.

Whatever it is that sets her off, it results in Querida flying in through the cat door at top speed, rocketing across the office and to the top of the highest of my three metal filing cabinets where she will suddenly stop, fur all puffed out, panting like a freight train. At that point, she usually sits down and engages in a spot of frantic, high-paced licking and more panting until she finally calms down.

The one bad habit she refuses to grow out of is lying on the floor immediately behind the wheels of my office chair. I've lost count of the number of times I've nearly rolled over her and found tufts of her fur in the wheels.

===============================================================
Thu, 23 Aug 2001 05:53:18
From: Janni Lee Simner

On Wed, 22 Aug 2001 21:24:31, moonfire@sierratel.com (Moggy Goddess) wrote:

The one bad habit she refuses to grow out of is lying on the floor immediately behind the wheels of my office chair. I've lost count of the number of times I've nearly rolled over her and found tufts of her fur in the wheels.

< Does she let out the same awful screech Tia does here, when the wheels roll over her tail? You'd think the conditioning against lying there would be an awful lot stronger...

==============================================================
Thu, 23 Aug 2001 17:03:31
No, she makes a plaintive little quack. Querida has more of a quack than a meow.

I think this trait is genetic. Her son, Tribble, does the same blasted thing, except he never makes any sound at all! I feel resistance, I look down, and he's struggling to get his tail out from under a wheel. All I get is this aggrieved look, as though I did it on purpose. He's so weird.

===============================================================
Fri, 24 Aug 2001 05:15:56
I had to rescue Diva from Unicom this afternoon. She was the only one still outside, having refused to come in when I gathered the rest of the Horde into the office and closed off the cat door. I knew she'd come around "knocking" to get in eventually.

Then I heard squalling and ruckus. I ran outside to find Unicom in full inflate at the base of the oak tree behind my office, and Diva perched on the lowest branch. I chased him off while Diva sang her woes at me and registered complaints. Fortunately, it's a very low branch, so I was able to pluck her off and carry her inside.

I lectured Uni later, but he was smugly unrepentant.

===============================================================
Thu, 30 Aug 2001 21:04:52
We left Tues. morning and got home Wed. afternoon around 3:30. I went down to the office to check on the Horde, who heaped around me. It was too late in the day to let any of them out, so I was being careful about that.

After dinner, I went back down to the office to hand out more food, clean the boxes etc. At 10 I was cleaning boxes when I heard an utterly piteous meowing outside the door. I knew it wasn't Unicom's voice. I quickly opened the door and Artemis raced inside as though the hounds of hell were after her.

I have no idea how or when she got out! I'm hoping she somehow managed to slip out in the late afternoon. Otherwise, it means she was outside the whole time I was gone!

Artemis isn't a "greeter" type of cat -- she's more a hider-type-- so my catsitter could easily have missed noticing that she wasn't around.

I checked her out and she looks fine, albeit a bit dirty.

========
Sun, 02 Sep 2001 17:56:06
I'm a little worried about Achilles. He's been doing extremely well and eating like a horse. He would barely let me get the food out of can before he began scoffing it down.

Last night he acted hungry, then totally ignored the canned food. He only seemed interested in lapping up the juices.

This morning, he barely touched the food again. Then he went over to check out the plates where I put the rest of the can out for the other cats. He didn't seem interested in that version of the food either. He seems all right otherwise, plenty of spring in his step, but this not eating all of a sudden disturbs me. I hope it's just a passing thing.

Ah...he must have heard what I typed because he just this minute jumped up and began eating the food, or what Theseus left of it. What a typical cat thing to do.

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Mon, 03 Sep 2001 17:40:55
I watched to see what Achilles would do when I gave him food this morning. Although he showed interest, he decided that the wonderful alternative food (from the same can) that I was putting on plates for the other cats had to be far more delectable that what was in his bowl.

So I told him, "Fine, whatever your furry little heart desires," and I dumped his bowl onto the plates where he happily snarfed it up.

Yet another Stupid Cat Trick. But he is a Very Old Cat and one must make allowances for Very Old Cats.

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Thu, 06 Sep 2001 00:32:21
Knobby had a gopher lunch, the good boy.

One of the cats has been leaving small pools of a bright yellow foamy liquid all over the office, spots of it here and there. After a couple of days of this, I started to worry. This morning, I finally caught Artemis in the act. Consequently, she has a vet appointment tomorrow for a check-up. The bright yellow color of it bothers me the most. It doesn't fit with what I usually see when a cat is simply reacting to, say, a nasty tasting plant or bug.

I've been wanting to get her checked anyway. She is grossly fat and for no good reason that I can see. She's not a heavy eater and not a cat who constantly has her head in the food bowl. I suspect a possible glandular problem. We shall see.

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Fri, 07 Sep 2001 04:21:01
Cat telepathy kicked in when I went to get Artemis for her visit to the vet. She was in hiding and as soon as I spotted her and walked toward her, she took off. After five minutes of following her from place to place, I admitted defeat and called Randy. Even with the two of us tag teaming it, it took quite a few minutes to catch her. She's worked out a series of hiding spots that have two alternative escape routes at least and she can move damn fast.

Having snagged her, she went willingly enough into the carrier. When I opened it again at the vet's, she was squeezed into the far corner, hiding her head in that time-honored cat philosophy of, "If I can't see it, it isn't there." She refused to come out. The vet tipped the carrier up...and up...and up...straight vertical...held it up in the air. Nothing came out! We could see a bit of furry butt and that was it. Artemis has wedged herself into that thing and wasn't budging. The vet and I were laughing our asses off.

Fortunately, I'd put a towel in there, so with a bit of yank of that, out she popped. Oh, what a miserable moggy she was. Very miserable. Utterly passive, though. She even let him clip her extra claws, something I have much trouble getting her to let me do.

My two concerns were the yellow foam she's throwing up and her excessive weight. She weighs in at a little over 16lbs! That makes her as heavy as Owl, but nowhere near his size.

Since I have no way to isolate her for observation, she's spending the night there. They did some blood tests, which came out normal. He was mainly concerned about her liver functions. They gave her medicine to calm her stomach and we'll see how she does overnight. Other than that, all I could is have them check her thyroid to see if that accounts for the weight problem, but that's a $50.00 test on top of everything else.

After talking to the vet, it may be more urgent to have Achilles get the thyroid test first. The vet said old cats are quite prone to hyperthyroidism. Achilles has the classic symptoms: always hungry and eats like a horse, but is skinny as a rail.

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Sat, 08 Sep 2001 04:34:56
The unfortunate Artemis is spending yet another night at the vet's. They tried all day long to get her to eat or keep anything down. They gave her three different medications to stop the vomiting and she threw up all of them.

Finally, late in the afternoon, they managed to get enough barium into her to take x-rays. The good news is that she doesn't have an obstruction or anything that would require surgery.

The bad news is that she has a badly inflamed stomach. Her system is so empty, she probably hasn't eaten for many days. You'd think she could live off her fat, but even for a fat cat that's not healthy. The vet thinks she must have eaten something toxic or something she was very allergic to. This often happens from eating the wrong kind of plant. Bast only knows.

So they're giving her a shot of cortisone and keeping her for observation. If she does well, I may be able to bring her home tomorrow. If the results aren't so good, they'll keep her the whole weekend.

Glug. This is going to cost me a *lot* of money.

I went in to give her some scritchies and sympathy. She was a pathetic, miserable sight and not the least bit cheered by my presence. Poor girl.

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Sat, 08 Sep 2001 22:17:04
One of the other main symptoms, which Achilles certainly displays, is acting like a young cat or a kitten, instead of sleeping a lot like old cats should do.

The other problem with treating the hyperthyroidism, especially in an old cat, is that it's hard on the kidneys. Achilles only has one kidney that seems to be functioning, doing the work of two, so the vet said we'd have to very careful with treatment or boosting the thyroid could cause the kidney to shut down.

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Sat, 08 Sep 2001 22:22:22
La Blimpette has come home. I talked to the vet at 10, then again at 11 and was given the ok. She's not eating, but is drinking water and hasn't thrown up. I was told not to worry about getting her to eat. Her throat and stomach are probably still too upset for that. She should start eating by tomorrow.

She has crawled off into some hidey-hole and I haven't seen a hair of her. I have two sets of pills to give her; one type twice a day and the other type 3x a day! Yeah, right. I'm going to have a jolly old time of it trying to get a pill into her 3x a day. Fat chance.

Oh, yeah, as I feared, the bill was horrendous. A little over $200. As I reacted to the price placed in front of me, a horrible squealing sound came from a nearby exam room.

"That's just a pig," I was assured, "they squeal any time you touch them."

"No," I said, "That was me looking at the bill."

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Sun, 09 Sep 2001 18:27:36
To my amazement, and relief, Artemis has been remarkably good about taking her meds. So far I've been able to walk up to her, pick her up and do the deed. I expect she'll start running away from me by the end of the day. But she doesn't struggle or give me a hard time about actually taking the pills.

She also hasn't shown interest in food yet, not that I can tell. I hope that changes soon.

I had to get up at some ungodly hour this morning to break up a fight between Unicom and Nefreet. I swear, those two are determined to get one another. If it's not Nefreet deliberately antagonizing Uni, then it's Uni stalking and harassing Nefreet. They never give up, they just take turns. Kinda like my own little Middle East war.

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Mon, 10 Sep 2001 03:56:02
I am deeply miserable and depressed tonight as it looks as though we have lost Achilles.

I let him out around 1:30 or 2 this afternoon. I was letting cats in and out all day, in order to keep Artemis from getting out, so I rather lost track of whether he was in or out. In the late afternoon I suddenly realized there was a profound absence of Achilles. Usually he's right in my face starting to ask for food from about 5 onwards.

I searched this office like never before. Every nook and cranny and web-infested corner. Achilles never hides, but I looked in every possible hiding place anyway. Randy came down and helped me do yet another search, just in case.

Then Randy and I spent a good hour and some searching all around the house, under the house, the yard, the road and as much other territory as we could cover. I called and called, even though lately I don't think he could hear me calling him unless I was within about 5 feet of him. I know his hearing hasn't been good.

But he also wasn't a cat to wander. He would go from my office up the driveway to the house and hang out right outside the house, next to a window, always somewhere very close waiting for me to come out.

So we're talking about a few brief hours of bright afternoon when he utterly disappeared. I have no way of knowing what happened. Did a predator get him? Did he get confused and wander off into the wilderness? Did he feel his time had come and go off somewhere to die?

I hate not knowing and I'm devastated to lose him. I know 17 1/2 years is a damn good life, but I don't care. It just makes it hurt that much more.

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Mon, 10 Sep 2001 18:29:52
I had a vain, threadbare hope of seeing Achilles outside this morning, but no such luck.

The hardest part was coming down to the office, opening the door and not having right there greeting me as he always did, eager for his breakfast. There is a big hole in my heart where he used to be.

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Mon, 10 Sep 2001 20:52:27
Nefreet also gave us a scare last night.

We were watching tv in the living room when Nefreet wandered over to one side of the room, suddenly gave a vicious hiss and raced off at top speed.

It was such a strange reaction, I went over to take a look and found...a scorpion. Randy dispatched the scorpion, but we then spent the next hour anxiously watching Nefreet for any signs that she had been stung. She seemed perfectly fine last night and is fine today, so we escaped on that one.

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Tue, 11 Sep 2001 05:34:07
What I hate hate HATE is not knowing what happened to Achilles. Not knowing what happened to him. I can't tell you how much I wanted to be around when he finally ended his days, to be there for him, even if I had to ease him on. Now...I'll probably never know what kind of end he came to.

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Sun, 16 Sep 2001 03:09:52
The world events have overshadowed everything else in my life, but as the days pass, I once again become aware of how keenly I miss Achilles' presence. He always haunted my desk right next to the keyboard and followed me around. He was very much in my face, except when he was napping.

I've been waiting to see who will fill the vacancy as the alpha male. I don't see any one cat clearly occupying that position just yet, but I wouldn't be entirely surprised if it turns out to be Owl. Querida, who is the undisputed alpha female, has been a bit tough on Owl in the past, but a couple of days ago, I was surprised to see her present her head in a submissive way to Owl, the way cats present a head to have it licked or groomed by the other cat.

Both Owl and Theseus have been much more present on my desk and hanging around me more closely without Achilles to keep them at bay.

Artemis is doing well. She's gotten over her stomach problem just fine.

Diva has a minor wound on her shoulder. Can't tell if she just scraped it on something or was fighting. I cleaned it carefully, but there's no puncture that I can see. I'll have to keep an eye on it just in case. I don't need another abscess to deal with.

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Sat, 22 Sep 2001 05:04:43
There's no clear-cut winner for the Alpha Male position yet. Owl and Knobby had a minor face-off on my desk. My desk at that moment was occupied by about five other cats and Owl wanted to be there, too. I had to Intervene before Owl, Knobby and Sly engaged in paw boxing.

Theseus has taken up the right side of my desk as his station, which is the largest open space that I might have had use for. But having a giant fluffball sprawled across it renders the whole issue of using it rather moot.

He's up to be the next cat to visit the vet. He has some kind of odd sore in the corner of his mouth that isn't clearing up at all. It's been there a couple of weeks. I figured it was something minor that would go away. No such luck.

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Sun, 23 Sep 2001 19:26:35
Querida is having a "kitten" moment, batting non-existent objects around and acting silly. She's now my eldest, at 16 1/2. I love it when she gets silly.

Having been caught at it, however, she immediately stops and proceeds to recover her dignity.

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Mon, 24 Sep 2001 18:11:59
Unicom the Gopher Slayer did his job last night before retiring. He brought the gopher to his favorite spot -- on the back deck outside the sliding glass doors to the dining room. He chowed through the center of it, leaving behind the snout and most of the hindquarters. I wasn't up to cleaning gopher guts right before going to bed, so I left it.

This morning, Randy came out to the kitchen/dining area first and saw the roadrunner on the back deck having gopher leftovers. When the roadrunner saw Randy, he picked up the gopher hind end, trotted off the deck and around the back to the birdbath to finish his breakfast. He was still there when I came out and Randy told me the story.

That's what I like: nature's cleaning crew. Except for the snout. Looks like I'll have to deal with the snout.

I had to break up a face-off between Uni and Owl. They were yowling and in full PUFFED OUT TO HERE mode.

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Tue, 25 Sep 2001 04:47:14
Theseus is an unhappy moggy tonight, staying at Hotel Hoof'n'Paw (the name of my vet's clinic).

The first fun thing before taking him to the vet was cleaning his big old furry butt. He doesn't bother to do it himself, y'see, and his hygiene lately has been...well...disgusting.

He went quietly enough into the carrier, but he bitched in high decibel caterwaul the whole way there. "HELP me! HELP me! I'm GOING to be MURDERED! WAAAAIIIIILLLLLLL!!!!!"

The vet carefully examined the weird lump in the corner of Theseus' mouth on the left side. It's been there about 3 weeks without getting any better. The vet tried to get a small cell sample with a needle and got a gusher of blood instead. He said that any lump with that much blood going into it should probably be removed.

They had to knock him out for that, so he's spending the night. There's no way to know whether the lump is benign or malignant without a biopsy and I can't quite afford that on top of the rest of the bill. I'll have to keep a close eye on the spot. But the vet didn't think it had the indicators of being malignant.

Theseus the fluffball weighed in at a whopping 17 lbs.! He must be my heaviest cat. He outweighs both Owl and Artemis. He's a very *solid* cat.

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Wed, 26 Sep 2001 04:58:37
I picked Theseus up late this afternoon. He complained the whole way home, not deterred by the stitches in the corner of his mouth. I gave him some canned food by way of apology and he doesn't seem to be holding a grudge.

We'll see how well that lasts when I have to give him pills tomorrow.

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Thu, 27 Sep 2001 00:49:33
Giving Theseus a pill this morning proved marvelously easy. I put the pill inside a soft treat and he ate it right down. He's a furry pig, which is why he's about as wide as he is long.

The sore spot on Diva's neck looks really awful because she keeps scratching it. The fur is gone and the skin is red and raw. She keeps to the high ground so I have trouble getting hold of her, but I need to clean it again and use a spray the vet game me originally for Owl which should reduce the itchiness.

*If* I can ever get hold of her.

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Fri, 28 Sep 2001 04:46:14
Theseus is being such a good boy. He's a good-natured beastie, even though he still has a tiny streak of the wild creature left in him.

I've been spraying Diva's injury with something the vet gave me, Dermacool, which is supposed to numb the area. It doesn't look like she's scratching it as badly, so it may be helping.

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Sun, 30 Sep 2001 23:25:15
As I was driving up to my house a little before two in the afternoon, a large brown coyote with an enormous bushy tail ran across the road and headed uphill on what would be the very bottom end of my nearest neighbor's property.

A short time later, while eating lunch, Randy looked out the dining room doors and said, "You have two cats up the tree."

I went outside and discovered there were actually three cats in the big oak off the patio -- Tribble, Theseus and Sly. And they all looked pretty disturbed.

This immediately made us suspicious that the big brown coyote that is out and about so boldly in mid-afternoon may have come up to my house looking for a cat snack. He could be the one responsible for the disappearances of Sassy and Achilles. I didn't see a sign of anything when I went to check on the cats in the tree, but I yelled and made some noise just in case the coyote was within hearing. Then I made sure to get all the cats safely inside my office.

If he is the culprit and I spot him on my property, I'm reaching for my gun. I don't like killing creatures, but for him I'll make an exception.

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Owl just dialed the internet for me.

He came over to say hello, stepped on the keyboard, and the next thing I know my modem is dialing. {g}

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Wed, 03 Oct 2001 00:36:15
I haven't let Diva outside for a couple of days, but she also hasn't let me get anywhere within ten feet of her either. I have no idea how the sore spot on her back is doing.

I may have to resort to getting Randy down here. Diva adores Randy and always comes over to get attention from him. And he's tall enough to grab her from her high perch. It wouldn't be a nice trick, but we may have to resort to it.

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Thu, 04 Oct 2001 00:19:02
I came down and took one look at Diva's neck/back area this morning (from a distance, of course) and immediately decided it was time to get her to the vet. She's created a large scabby and raw-red area that is only getting worse and worse.

Fortunately, the vet was able to squeeze me in this afternoon. Randy came down with me after lunch. I cleaned cat boxes in an attempt to keep Diva from reading my mind. She couldn't resist coming down to sing to Randy, as usual. Thus, we nabbed her.

She practiced Demonic Arias at me all the way there and back, pausing only to try and bite her way through the grill on the carrier.

Otherwise, she was very well behaved. The vet thinks she may have gotten a staph infection which would make the area itch. She's had plenty of skin problems in the past, so she's prone to this sort of thing. She had a cortisone or prednisone shot, and I have the bright pink anti-biotic liquid I have to get into her twice a day.

Man, is *that* going to be a challenge. Time to haul down some step-ladders.

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Thu, 04 Oct 2001 18:29:45
So far, so good. I hauled the stepladder down last night and was able to grab Diva before she was aware what I was up to.

This morning, she made a run for the door while I was letting the other cats out and I nabbed her.

I was wrong about the medicine. It's not the pink stuff; it's Clavamox, which is white. Diva's quite good about taking it once I have my hands on her. She's a sweet girl. She's just a tough one to catch, a real rocket-butt.

As for weight, she came in at 11 3/4 lbs. at the vet's. Not huge, but bigger than Nefreet by a couple of pounds at least. Small compared to Uni or Owl or Artemis.

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Fri, 05 Oct 2001 23:19:14
Diva again made a dash for the door this morning and was nabbed for her medicine. We'll see how long this good luck lasts. She's NOT going outside until her skin is in much better shape, given the way she loves to take dirt baths. I'm happy to say her back looks much better and is finally healing properly.

I came up to the house to find Nefreet in the back hallway with a live, but somewhat damaged gopher. He apparently wasn't giving her good enough sport, even with Randy and I standing there going "Get the gopher! Good girl, get the gopher! G'wan already!"

No use. We put her the rest of the way inside (covered with burrs, she was), then I went outside to fetch Unicom. He was lying regally in the driveway and was rather surprised to be scooped up and brought into the pantry. We prodded the gopher out. It took him a minute to figure out that his people were giving *him* a gopher instead of the other way around. To our relief, he made short work of it and exited via the cat door with a mouth full of gopher.

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Sun, 07 Oct 2001 03:36:18
Diva made the mistake of rushing for the door again this morning.

Tonight, though, she's being very elusive. It may require Randy-assistance again.

I found a lump or growth of some kind on Querida's forehead, above her right eye. I suppose I'll have to have it looked at it. sigh...

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Tue, 09 Oct 2001 04:08:24
I'm so glad Diva hasn't worked out the same evasion tactics as Artemis. Artemis devised a pattern which always gave her two ways out of a hiding hole, making it damn near impossible to grab her.

Diva sticks to the high ground, but her paths are linear. I follow her around with the stepladder. Eventually, she reaches a point where she just gives up, puts her little head down and lets me grab her. She's such a sweet girl. Her back continues to improve, though she does scratch it a bit now and then.

Theseus went to the vet this afternoon to have the stitches removed from the corner of his mouth. He complained the whole way there, but was good about it when the time came. He's sprawled to the right of my keyboard, happy as a clam.

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Wed, 10 Oct 2001 21:31:20
Just as I was hoping Diva was getting better, she scratched new bloody, raw spots into her back. I informed the vet, since I only had one dose of the Clavamox left. I was so looking forward to not having to chase her down and catch her twice a day. No such luck.

She's on another bottle of Clavamox, plus I have to give her Prednisone once a day. This better do the trick. I've been lucky that I've still managed to catch her, but it gets a tiny bit more difficult with each day.

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Thu, 11 Oct 2001 01:28:36
This is disturbing. I've just found a large cyst-like lump on Tribble's leg. I need to get a closer look at it.

First, Theseus with the growth on his mouth, then Querida with some kind of lump on her head, now Tribble. I'll have to ask the vet if this can just be coincidence.

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Thu, 11 Oct 2001 18:35:12
Diva gave me a run for my money this morning. She must be getting advice from Artemis: "Sticking to the heights isn't working, kid. Try the really low areas, like under the workbench. Then dash out the gap in these shelves *here* and keep these other shelves between you and her and whatever you do, KEEP MOVING."

I only caught her because she still wants to retreat to certain high spots and I have the stepladder set up in anticipation of that. It would be a lot easier if her back weren't covered with sore spots because it makes it nearly impossible to grab her by the scruff of the neck.

But I think she's looking a little better. At least there are no new gouged out areas.

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Fri, 12 Oct 2001 04:55:50
THE TRIBBLE WITH TROUBLE

He whined pathetically the whole way to the vet's and added an extra something special by crapping in the carrier. I was very glad it was still a warm enough day to have the windows open.

I took Tribble into the room as indicated to await the arrival of my regular vet, Dr. R. Shortly afterwards, a stout man I'd never seen before came in consulting a chart. I thought at first he was a technician come to weigh Tribble. Then I saw his name tag and realized he was a vet himself, a Dr. M. This isn't unusual, as my vet's clinic is a busy one and she often has to bring in pinch-hitters.

I figured he was filling in and that Dr. R had been pulled off onto something else. The gent immediately looked at Tribble's ears, which were quite dirty. One of Tribble's favorite things is to take dust baths. Dr. M. gave Tribble a very thorough ear exam for ear mites. This also made sense, as ear mites cause a build-up of dirt in the ears. He declared that Tribble's ears looked excellent.

"That ear mite medicine must have worked," he said.

Ear mite medicine? It is symptomatic of just how bad my memory is and how little I trust it, that I figured I must have brought Tribble in for ear mites at some time in the past and forgotten about it.

"He looks fine," Dr. M. said after checking him over a bit more, "we'll just give him a couple of shots and he can go home."

"Shots? What kind of shots?"

"His feline leukemia booster."

Tribble has never had those kind of shots.

"Umm...I didn't bring him in for shots."

Dr. M. picked the chart, which contained a couple of sparse pieces of paper.

"That can't be my chart," I said, "It's too thin." My chart is a couple of inches thick.

"Tribble?" he said.

"Yes. Do you have two cats named Tribble in today?"

He looked at the cover sheet.

"Saunders?"

"Nope."

He suddenly looked terribly sheepish and beat a hasty retreat.

About five minutes later, Dr. R. arrived and I told her the story. She was highly amused. "He'll be so embarrassed," she said.

She then proceeded to give Tribble the correct exam. The growth is a plain old sebaceous cyst, completely harmless. She said there was no environmental or other reason for more than one cat to develop a lump, so I don't need to be paranoid. However, she said lumps or growths on cats are something to be cautious of, since 80% of the time they are malignant. I'm to keep a very close eye on the one Querida has, which is currently too small for identification.

Tribble enduring being pricked and prodded with his usual sweet complacency. Tonight, he is residing at the vet's and they will remove the cyst tomorrow. Even though it's harmless, it looks really ugly to me and I know it would bug me every time I saw it. So off it comes.

As I was getting ready to leave, I inquired about the other Tribble.

The other "Tribble", as it turned out, was actually named Trouble. {g}

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Sat, 13 Oct 2001 01:00:00
Tribble is home, and such an ordeal it was. He has a bandage on his leg that needs to remain their another 5 days or so.

Randy was in the car this time and he instantly developed asthma even with Tribble in the carrier on the back seat. It didn't help that Tribble decided, in addition to piteous whining, to show his unhappiness by both peeing and crapping en route.

Randy and I have agreed that in the future, I will use the *old* car to transport cats. {g}

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Sat, 13 Oct 2001 04:54:06
I just realized that Tribble's chin has been shaved. Dr. R noticed Tribble had a very dirty chin and a bit of skin trouble, so I guess she decided to shave it.

Diva was an easy catch both times today, and her back is slowly looking better.

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Sun, 14 Oct 2001 04:18:44
As I feared, Tribble is proving to be a master of bandage removal. He had the entire thing half-unravelled and pushed so far down on his leg that the entire set of stitches were uncovered.

I managed to get it back into place, but the unravelling continues. Somewhere upstairs there's an old Ace bandage. I'll have to dig it out and add it to Tribble's leg, or I swear the thing will be entirely off by tomorrow morning. The flapping piece of bandage is also annoying the hell out of him.

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Sun, 14 Oct 2001 23:25:40
That blasted Tribble managed to completely remove his bandage. It took me a long time to find the bandage, cleverly hidden as it was. There's no way I can put it back on, either. I'll have to check with the vet's office tomorrow to see how much of a problem this is, since he was supposed to keep it on for another 4-5 days yet. He doesn't seem bothered by the stitches, isn't worrying at them or anything, and I'm certainly not letting him outside, so it might be all right.

Tosca has been showing her colors as the probable next alpha female. Querida is now getting pretty old. Today, Tosca had the nerve to bat Querida on the head -- nothing too serious -- and Querida took it. In fact, Tosca batted several cats on the head today, including Owl.

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Tue, 16 Oct 2001 04:03:55
The vet's office said it's okay to leave the bandage off Tribble's leg, as long as he isn't trying to remove the stitches and is keeping it clean. No problem there. He seems oblivious to the stitches and doesn't bite or lick at them. It was only that bandage he didn't like.

Diva continues to scratch at her back a little bit, but is definitely getting better. Since I have to be out of town for three days, I plan to deposit her at the vet's, since there's no way my sitter could manage to catch her and she needs to keep taking the Prednisone.

But here's a good sign -- I gave Diva her medicine a little while ago, and just now she let me pet her up instead of running away.

Oh, I added a cat bridge to the office today. There's a five foot gap between a large metal plan file and a set of shelves that one or more of the cats insists on jumping. But he or she lands on the metal plan file and slides, sending a whole pile of stuff flying. I have gotten so weary of picking things up over and over again, I went to the lumber yard, bought a cheap, old, leftover plank and have set that across the gap. Now I'm waiting to see which cat discovers it first. They should love it, once they realize it's there.

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Sun, 21 Oct 2001 00:00:39
Diva was home waiting for me after the trip, thanks to my petsitter who conveniently works in my vet's office. I have some entirely new liquid medicine to give her twice a day, but they think her back is improving very well and aren't worried.

Naturally, Diva had no interest in coming down to see me last night, even though I wasn't giving her medicine at the time.

Tribble managed a jail-break and got outside today. his leg has healed up extremely well, though, so I let him get away with it.

Theseus and Tribble have discovered the cat bridge and seem to be enjoying it. I declare it a success.

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Sun, 21 Oct 2001 18:31:23
Unicom has decided to sleep in. He's curled up in a contented orange ball on the sofa and hasn't budged since last night. Given that he's about 62 in human terms, he's entitled to be lazy on a lovely morning.

Autumn is in the air and all over the cats. They have decided, en masse, to bring inside as much of the yard as they can coat themselves with. First Tosca, then Kate, then Owl merrily trotted inside coated like fried chicken...er...if you coated your chicken with leaves and twigs and dust and grasses and seeds, that is.

They home directly for my desk, apparently in the belief that my desk can't have too much of the outside world dropped on it. I try to grab them and brush off as much of the environment as I can before they achieve desk-shedding.

It's no wonder I need a new keyboard.

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Tue, 23 Oct 2001 05:04:41
The Mighty Gopher Slayer was in top form today. Uni caught one gopher in the early afternoon and another one early this evening. He settled in for a good nap after each one.

Diva made me run around after her tonight. Sometimes she lets me catch her with no effort and other times we play hide and seek. But she's being more affectionate between times and even came over to me at the computer yesterday. She's such a sweet girl.

More of the cats are discovering the cat bridge. Diva, Tosca and Sly are wary of it and use it cautiously. Theseus loves it. He's such a big, happy, fluffy goofball. I sure didn't do a good job of finding his real name...whatever it is.

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Sun, 28 Oct 2001 22:30:31
I worry about the Cat Bridge once in a while. Theseus got terribly energetic the other day and was using it like a trampoline. BOING! BOING! He's not exactly a lightweight, either. I cringed with each BOING, but the board held up.

Yesterday, I removed Tribble's stitches from his leg. He was a perfect gentleman about it. He laid there and purred mightily, didn't struggle or make a fuss. He has a natural reserve of Valium, that cat.

I relented and let Diva outside today for the first time in weeks. She was a happy girl. She has rewarded me by coming inside covered in obnoxious little burrs. Sigh...

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Tue, 30 Oct 2001 21:47:33
I have an office full of disgruntled cats. When I opened the office door, the usual batch rushed out and crashed to a halt on the doormat. Rain fell beyond the protection of the eaves. There was much sitting and thinking and not a whole lot of frolicking. Mostly they turned around and came back in.

Ten minutes later, a couple would demand to go out again, either having forgotten it was raining or perhaps in a profound feline belief that surely the rain had stopped by then. It's a disappointed Horde, I must tell you.

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Thu, 01 Nov 2001 00:43:00
I am not happy about the lack of progress on healing Diva's back. In spite of the vet's reassuring words, she doesn't look to me like she's improving. It looks the same week after week. She continues to lick or scratch the same spots until they raw and red again. Pretty soon, I'll run out of the new medication and the Prednisone. I suspect there may be another trip to the vet in Diva's future.

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Fri, 02 Nov 2001 05:29:50
I have a deliriously happy pile of Siamese curled up in my lap. Owl is purring like a NASCAR engine.

Diva gave me a chase tonight. She's figured out that going to ground makes it much harder for me to catch her than getting caught up on a shelf. And her back looks *terrible*, dammit.

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Sat, 03 Nov 2001 00:57:55
Yesterday, or maybe it was the day before, Randy told me Theseus and Nefreet had a tiff in the driveway. I saw tufts of white Theseus fur lying there.

Today I found a nasty hole on his back. The scab came loose and when I dug through the fur to see what it was, I found the hole. Good thing, too, as it was a prime candidate for an abscess. I've cleaned it up thoroughly and filled it with Neosporin, so with luck it'll be ok.

Unicom spent the first half of the day up in the loft escaping from the well drilling monster. Obviously, he has forgotten the first 7 months of his life living at an airport.

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Sat, 03 Nov 2001 19:04:10
Oh joy, Owl is throwing up. Just the usual breakfast of grass, but he makes the most godawful sounds. It's very *expressive* throwing up.

I'm up and down a lot these days letting cats in and out and in and out of the office during the morning and early afternoon. That's because I'm keeping the cat door closed, and that's because I don't want Diva or Theseus going outside to roll in the dirt until their respective problems heal up. Diva actually looks better today.

I had to trim some of the fur away from the hole in Theseus' back when I cleaned it again this morning. The fur was plugging it, making the ideal conditions for an abscess, so I need to keep it clear. Then I have to make sure I know exactly where he is or am holding him while I let the rest of the Horde in and out and in and out.

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Tue, 06 Nov 2001 05:32:54
I've decided that Owl never genuinely relaxes. He was in my lap, purring happily, when something (damned if I know what) set off his alarms. The next thing I know, this 16-lb-Siamese has launched off my lap in a high arcing trajectory straight up and out as though propelled by four super powered springs. I swear he nearly bounced off the ceiling. He left a clawhole in my track pants. Fortunately, he didn't leave a hole in my leg.

A small, seemingly inconsequential scrape over Unicom's right eye was suddenly looking much worse today. We got Uni while he was warm, sleepy and relaxed on the sofa, then I shaved the fur away from the spot (he hated that) and gave it a thorough cleaning with peroxide and an application of Neosporin. We're guessing it might be a claw wound that isn't quite healing up right.

What is it with my cats and skin problems all of a sudden?

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Thu, 08 Nov 2001 19:15:20
Having reached the end of Diva's last batch of medicines with no improvement, I consulted with the vet who was concerned about the lack of progress.

So poor Diva was hauled off to the vet yesterday. The best the vet can figure is some kind of auto-immune response problem where her system is over-reacting and turning on itself due to some sort of allergic reaction which has led to secondary infection. The trick is to break the cycle so the immune system can reset itself, or whatever it needs to do to stopping attacking itself.

She's now fashionably attired in a tube-stocking t-shirt to keep her from compulsively licking at the area and scratching it. I have a whole pharmacy of stuff to give her: massive doses of Prednisone, liquid antibiotics and a liquid fatty acid supplement (basically, Vitamin E and Linoleic acid) that she needs to have twice a day. Thank Bast that Diva is a such a sweetheart. I may have trouble catching her now and then, but she never gives me any trouble at all about taking the meds. Once I catch her, she is totally compliant.

This morning, she made no attempt at all to get away. She laid on top of the filing cabinet and let me come up to her, pet her, then do the medicine thing. The t-shirt is already stretched half-way off the problem are, though. I'll need to find a way to make the neck part of it more snug.

I have plastic bags hanging on a coat rack and use them to dispose of the unwanted byproducts of the cat boxes. Normally, Owl has no way to reach them, but somehow he managed to hold of one the other day. I found the remnants on the floor after he munched through large amounts of it. I said it before, I'll say it again -- he's a weird cat.

Part of our evening routine in the house is sitting on the sofa with Nefreet to the right of me, and Unicom between Randy and me. It's the winding down part of the day where we give the two house cats their final pet-pet, thereby helping all four of us to relax before bedtime. Uni has one of those great purrs that can settle anybody's nerves.

Uni has learned the new routine. He'll run around all night, then show up at the dining room doors to come inside and settle down on the sofa. His internal clock is quite good.

Nefreet is the trouble-maker, being the jealous psycho-kitty that she is. She keeps trying to take over Unicom's spot. Either Randy or I will move her over to my side of the sofa, where she glowers and pouts. I try to give her affection; she bites me. Sometimes she bites while she's purring. Totally whacko.

Last night, we'd been going through the relocation bit over and over again. Randy insists he can out-stubborn Nefreet. I put her by my side and covered her with my shirt to see if she would enjoy that and stay put. She seemed fine with it.

Uni jumped up to his spot between us, then suddenly went on full alert. His eyes got huge. His tail went to FULL POOF MODE. He had spotted a Dangerous Unidentified Monster at the other end of the sofa!

No amount of coaxing (or laughing) would convince Unicom that the hideous black furry snake threatening him was actually Nefreet's tail sticking out from the bottom of my shirt. No, it was clearly a furry cat-eating snake and he was having no part of it. He jumped off the sofa and retreated to the loft.

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Thu, 08 Nov 2001 22:51:57
It was inevitable. Diva has already worked her front legs and shoulders out of the tube. It's now scrunched into a "girdle" around her midsection.

I went to let Unicom onto the deck after lunch, but he froze in the doorway. I looked several feet to my left and there, right at the base of the steps to the deck, was the roadrunner chasing a large lizard in my direction. I quickly called for Randy to come and look.

Mr. Roadrunner's tail was fully fanned out and wings extended. He had no intention of being distracted or intimidated from his meal. He made several darting stabs and came up with the lizard in his beak. He then retreated to the other end of the adobe-brick patio where he proceeded to pound the crap out of that poor lizard. He whacked it against the adobe bricks until the lizard was nearly turned inside out.

Once the pounding was done, the roadrunner decided he'd had enough of the audience and took off across the driveway, leaping right over Theseus in the process. Theseus was crouched on the other side of the railroad ties that outline the patio. He was quite a startled cat, let me tell you, and he made no attempt to get in the roadrunner's way.

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Fri, 09 Nov 2001 19:15:24
Houdini-girl has managed to completely shed her tube-shirt and I have no idea where it is. They gave me a second one. We'll see how long that lasts.

Since Diva does all her scratching at the bad spots with her back feet, I decided to take an extra step and clip her back toenails. After the morning medicine fest, I got out the clippers. She squirmed. I adjusted by hold. She squirmed. I readjusted. She squirmed. And so on. I did eventually manage to clip them all.

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Mon, 12 Nov 2001 05:04:55
ARGGH! I had Owl peacefully dozing in my lap when Blue and Artemis decided to have a tiff. She let out a loud yowl and Owl dug in every claw he has and launched. I Am In Pain.

Diva immediately got herself out of the second stocking shirt, but left this one lying on the floor near my door. I still haven't found the first one. I put it back on and snugged it up with a couple of safety pins. So far, she hasn't managed to get out of it again.

I am continuously amused at how well Unicom has Randy wrapped around his little paws. One bright-eyed, expectant look from that cat and Randy rushes for a treat to give him. He cuddles him and coddles him. I love it. {g}

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Thu, 15 Nov 2001 04:46:33
Houdini-girl struck again. She has been re-socked. I'm seeing progress, but only as long as she's wearing the sock-shirt. As soon as she gets it off, she's back to licking those spots raw.

Lately, she seems to have completely given up on trying to avoid the medicine. "Resistance is futile!" I told her. She seems resigned to the inescapability of it. At least we're down to just the Prednisone and the vitamin liquid now.

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Sun, 18 Nov 2001 23:04:31
I am once again ready to offer Blue up as coyote bait. He was picking fights with everybody -- picking on Owl, picking on Diva, picking on Knobby. If he weren't such a sweet people cat, I would kick him outside and leave him there.

Diva is finally showing some improvement. Her bad skin spots are slowly healing up. She looks like a street urchin in her ragged, fraying garment which doesn't look like it'll last much longer at this rate. I may have to get another one from the vet. I never did find the first one she managed to lose within the first day.

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Tue, 20 Nov 2001 05:35:55
The cats are growing in their winter coats. Theseus is fluffing out to the point where I'll need to comb him much more frequently. The dreadlocks are already forming.

As Nefreet clambered across my lap to reach Randy's lap, I luxuriated in how soft and thick her coat was. Even in summer, her fur feels like mink. She was in a mellow mood, meaning she hadn't bitten one of us...yet.

"She feels like a plush toy," I said. "With teeth," he added.

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Sat, 24 Nov 2001 19:12:50
The poor moggies are trapped inside by the howling rainstorm. Not a one wanted to venture out my office door where muddy puddles lie in wait.

At the house, Nefreet actually crouched out on the porch for a while. I think she was testing her will against the storm's: "You will abate! You will abate!" The storm won.

So they're all lying around in bored piles, dozing. Artemis has a scratch on her nose, gotten from who knows who.

Diva's back is healing up very nicely. She is such a ragamuffin as her shirt continues to fray and shred, but it's doing its job.

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Wed, 28 Nov 2001 00:59:55
Diva finally managed to free herself from the tattered shreds of her shirt. She was so PROUD of herself. She trotted around the office full of mischief saying, "See, no shirt!"

Unfortunately, she has also scratched a new raw spot right where she was healing up so nicely. I cut the sleeve off an old t-shirt and fastened a new, stronger shirt for her, pinned up with safety pins. Looks like a straitjacket. {g} Ever so chic.

She wasn't happy with me.

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Fri, 30 Nov 2001 19:15:58
Darling Diva has already begun to scratch holes in her new t-shirt, though at least she hasn't damaged her back any further. Fortunately, I had a lot of extra fabric, so I refolded and repinned it to create a heavier layer of cloth on the top of her back. She'll have to work pretty hard to scratch her way through that.

Then again...nothing much stops a determined cat.

I am ready to lobotomize Blue who has been picking fights left and right. He's definitely bucking to be alpha male, but he's picking on the females as well as the males and being a damned nuisance. I've taken to tossing him outside to cool off each time he starts something.

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Sun, 02 Dec 2001 19:51:43
The horde is not enjoying the wild and crazy storm. Only the bravest -- Tribble, Querida, Theseus and Owl -- ventured outside for brief stints before rushing back inside. I like the way Querida flattens back her ears and "dives" into the wind like an otter.

Most of them are resigned to naps. Tribble is complaining about it, but tough luck. Querida has her vast bulk squeezed into my lap and is kneading her enormous polydactyl claws into my leg. Ouch.

I had to be the Evil Mother and give Unicom and Nefreet their weekly anti-allergen bath. Unicom gripes and curses, but at least that's all he does.

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Wed, 12 Dec 2001 00:07:23
When I came down to my office yesterday, Houdini Diva has gotten her front legs out of the shirt and was wearing it around her middle, girdle-fashion. Her back looked very good -- no sore spots, no scabs, nicely healed with much of the hair growing back. I decided to risk it. I removed the hated shirt and have kept a close eye on her. So far, so good. She isn't scratching at it or making new sore spots.

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Sat, 15 Dec 2001 05:48:24
Diva's been fairly good about leaving her back alone so far. She did scratch one tiny new scab into the same spot on her back where all of this started. I'm watching carefully, ready to put her back in the straitjacket at a moment's notice.

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Sun, 23 Dec 2001 19:56:59
< Are the moggies ready for Christmas? Have they learned their parts for the school Christmas program? Have they gotten their Christmas outfits in order? Completed their s/h/o/p/p/i/n/g hunting and gathering? Sent out their cards? Agreed upon the Christmas dinner menu, and who prepares or brings which dish?
< So much to do! So many moggies to do it! It's like, like -- herding cats!


Even now they are out and about searching, I'm sure, for just the right juicy morsel of gopher or lizard or mouse or bird which will serve double-duty as the xmas feast and the Cat Mother's presents (otherwise known as the leftovers).

Tosca and Diva have practiced their duets and are in perfect voice.

Artemis has scryed portentous portents in the water bowl whilst washing her feet.

Theseus is wearing his fluffiest winter coat. Those with less fluff have gathered around the oil heater. A great deal of deep meditation (aka sleeping) has been done.

Santa Claws reports numerous requests for catnip and canned food.

I would have to pronounce the Moggy Horde well and truly ready for the holidays.

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Tue, 25 Dec 2001 19:59:33
The moggies have a lovely day in which to frolic and that's what they're doing.

Yesterday, when I couldn't let them out because we would be gone all day, Tribble decided he would not be held prisoner. I had to carry out the large water bowl to dump it and refresh the water. I was doing my best to make sure nobody got out, but Tribble wound up and charged out the door like a damned cannonball, caromed off my legs and nearly knocked me over. I reeled and staggered with the bowl of water slopping in my hands.

Usually, once Tribble gets outside and isn't ready to come in, you can forget about catching him. This time I got lucky and was able to lay hands on him. I put him down in front of the xmas treat -- canned food. That kept his attention while I made my escape.

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Mon, 31 Dec 2001 01:35:16
Querida, the dignified Matron, is going through a second kittenhood. She will suddenly leap upon in visible bits of fluff and generally behave completely like a demented kitten. It's very funny, but she hates being caught at it.

Having lost his best friend, Achilles, Theseus has now shifted his adoration and attention to Tribble. Poor old Tribble is forever finding Theseus in his face, licking him, wanted to be licked, cruising up next to him, plopping on him. But Theseus is rather like the bull in a china shop. He was having one of his cuddle/head-licking sessions on the desktop, but because Theseus is so wide, Tribble suddenly went tumbling off the desk! It's a lucky thing Tribble is such a good-natured old boy.

I also caught Owl and Sly crammed together in the same cat bed.

The big change in the Moggy Horde den is a change of cat litter. Only someone with a lot of cats will understand how significant is the search for the right kind of cat litter.

For a long time, I've been using Feline Pine which I love. It's pellets of compressed pine. When the cats pee in it, it breaks down into sawdust. It always smells good and I had less waste to put in the garbage bin because I sift the sawdust and dump it on a slope behind my office. It's only sawdust, so it'll break down eventually.

But I ran into some problems. I started to sneeze while sifting the sawdust out. Not every time, just enough to find it annoying. It also takes about an hour a day to properly sift out the sawdust from the four oversized tubs I use for cat boxes. An hour is a lot of time out of the day. Plus the pile of sawdust out back is getting significant. The other day, Randy came down to put sealant around the outside office windows, which put him downwind of the pile. It gave him a pretty bad asthma/allergy attack.

I decided to consider a change. I bought a big container of scoopable litter and dedicated one of the tubs to that. The cats quickly made it clear what they preferred. I have two tubs now filled with the scooping stuff and two with Feline Pine. They give 90% of their business to the scooping and hardly set paw in the other two tubs.

So as the pine gets used up, I'll gradually switch all the boxes over to scooping litter. It's definitely faster, which is good. It will fill up the dumpster more quickly, which is bad (I have to pay for each time the dumpster is emptied). But I'm at the stage of life where my time is too precious to spend cleaning cat boxes.

A ramification of changing litter that I hadn't anticipated is the behavior of Artemis, Mover of Water. I had the water bowl in the cement floor half of the office where all the cat stuff is, but Artemis kept leaving bits of the new litter in the water, which she splashes around with her oversize paws. I was having to change out the water 3 times a day.

I've mostly solved the problem by moving the water bowl much farther away from the cat boxes so that Artemis has to walk across some of the carpeting to reach it, and has time to get some of the litter off her paws. I have the bowl sitting on a plastic boot tray with a rim, yet she has already managed once to shift the bowl entirely off the tray.

There is no stopping the Princess of Thumbs when she wants to do her water-scrying.